As a teenager, my milkshake did not bring all the boys to yard. My whole life I’ve had what I would call an average-sized chest—bigger than Molly Ringwald but not as big as J-Lo. But when I was pregnant, my breasts magically grew to Dolly Parton size overnight. I was entranced by them. I stared in disbelief at them in the mirror—because goodness knows I couldn’t actually touch them to prove they were real. And now they have deflated—after 10 months I must admit that their going is sad.
Breastfeeding (pumping really) is the last vestige of proof that this body carried a baby (not counting my flabby mid-section). Even though the breastfeeding did not go well for us at the beginning, I did what I could do. I brought out my sturdy travel breast pump and pumped the night away—literally. It wasn’t a glamorous life hooked up to the whirring of a thing that made my nipples look like long cow utters, but I can honestly say I did my best.
My little kid and I went from inconsistent latching, through mastitis twice (the first infection took me to the ER for a day), and then fighting the glorious Battle With Thrush more times than I can count, which brings us to my waning milk supply. Looking at my “girls” in the mirror now, they look like they need a long nap. Although, really it seems more like they need a long Caribbean vacation and maybe a drink with a little umbrella.
But this ending is bittersweet. This particular connection is broken never to be repaired. I have cried about it alone in the shower (which is where I do most of my alone crying), knowing in my heart that my little one and I will soon no longer be physically linked the way a baby and a mother are (even though my link was really with the cups on my breast pump). But, as my mom says, “You can only do what you can do,” and I did what I could do, and now it’s done. I am grateful to my “girls.” I hope now they can get their well-deserved rest, and I can only pray my nipples go back to a more normal size.
So to that I say:
Goodnight breast pumps.
Goodnight perky lumps.
Goodnight plastic cups sitting on chest bumps.
Good night nipple cream. Good night air.
Good night breast pump noises everywhere.